AVwebFlash - Volume 14, Number 33a

August 11, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Aerobatic Superstar Comments on Oshkosh Incident back to top 
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Wagstaff Denies Impaired Driving 'Rumors'

Air show pilot Patty Wagstaff is denying "rumors" that she was impaired by alcohol when she was taken into custody by Winnebago County Sheriff's Department officers late July 31 on a runway at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh. She told AVweb she was not tested for alcohol impairment during the incident. A report in the Green Bay Press Gazette last week said the Sheriff's Office has asked the Winnebago County District Attorney to press first-offense drunken driving charges against her and it will be up to the DA to decide whether the charge will proceed. "I do deny the allegations," she told AVweb. "And I did not do a breath test, a blood test or a field sobriety test." Although we still don't know all the details surrounding the runway incident, Wagstaff has provided AVweb with the following statement:

On Thursday, July 31, at Oshkosh about 11 p.m., I was driving from the Gathering of Eagles dinner at the EAA Museum to the North side of the airport, on airport property. My vehicle had the proper credentials, and I planned to take a route to the north side of the field down the taxiway along runway 18/36, through the warbirds area and then on the perimeter road. It was really dark, the runway was closed and I mistakenly ended up on the runway for about 1500' to the end of runway 36, before turning off onto the grass into the warbirds area.

As soon as I turned off the runway I was stopped by EAA Security, who promptly called the Winnebago County Sheriff and two police cars arrived. The police quickly took me into custody and I was released at 2:30 am and have since retained a lawyer. Even though I had a driver with me at the time I chose to drive because I had navigated this route before and it was very dark that night. Reports that I was driving impaired are simply not grounded in fact and are nothing more than rumors.

Obviously I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and I feel horrible about this and am very sorry for any trouble I've caused. I would like to warn all pilots to be mindful and present when operating any airport. In today's climate of heightened security, it is easy to see how an innocent mistake at any airport can lead to a frightening experience.

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Aviation at a Distance back to top 

Controller Directs Aircraft Via Cellphone Text Message

The pilot of a Piper Seneca with five aboard was last November instructed to land via text message. The report from the Air Accident Investigation Branch was published Aug. 6 detailing the complete electrical failure aboard the Seneca and the 39-year-old pilot's reaction to fly clear of clouds after departing Kerry airport for a flight to Jersey, in the U.K. The pilot attempted to contact Kerry airport and air traffic control in Cork via cellphone. After making contact with Cork and then losing contact, he received a text message from a Cork controller advising him that air traffic control had him on radar and he was cleared to land at the airport. The aircraft landed safely at the airport after performing a fly-by to confirm wheels down. The report praised the efforts of the controller. "In this incident the positive and proactive initiative of the ATC controller, who, on realising that mobile audio communication from the pilot was intermittent, quickly switched to texting his instructions instead," reported air accident investigator John Hughes.

Some New Military "Pilots" May Never Fly

Flying unmanned Predator and Reaper aerial vehicles for the Air Force used to be a job for trained (manned) aircraft pilots, but that is changing. Previously, pilots would rotate from manned aircraft to unmanned aircraft for a period of three years before rotating back into the air, but demand for UAV pilots has caused the Air Force to seek full-time career UAV pilots not otherwise trained to fly manned aircraft. Currently a program set in motion to train such officers is seeking to recruit non-pilots as UAV operators -- the staffing transition may take up to four years. The military is outsourcing some of the training and the University of North Dakota, which has set up a UAV center -- the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence -- and has received a $50 million training contract from the Air Force. Currently, there are over 100 Predators and Reapers in service with over 200 crews supporting them. UAV pilots have been enabled by new equipment to handle multiple aircraft at the same time, but in practice pilots rarely handled more than two well.

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Parts and Perils back to top 

Boeing, Airbus Face Parts Shortages, Perhaps Losses

A shortfall of seats, galleys and toilets is causing production slowdowns at both Airbus and Boeing, raising costs for the manufacturers and delaying deliveries and payment from customers, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. The delays have been present for nearly a year, but their impact this year spilled from new models into older production lines (Boeing's 777 and Airbus' A330) and may begin to affect both manufacturers' financial results as the manufacturers operate below planned efficiency levels. The problem has so far been blamed on the over-commitment of small suppliers that failed to match production with recent global demand for airliners. But the suppliers may not be the only parties to over-commit.

Thursday, Reuters reported that UAL Corp said it may cancel an order for 42 aircraft from Airbus, and therefore forfeit $91 million in deposits as the lesser evil as it faces difficult economic conditions that force changes in planned growth. Boeing on Thursday announced a cancellation (the first) of an order for its slow-in-coming 787 Dreamliner, which it hopes will eventually usher in new levels of operating efficiency for large airliners.

Eclipse's Latest Response To Unresponsive Throttle Issue

In the continuing response to a June 5 incident that left an Eclipse 500 flying over Chicago Midway with its throttles wide-open and unresponsive, Eclipse sent a service bulletin Thursday to explain how operators should comply with a new airworthiness directive from the FAA that clarifies mandatory inspections of the 500's throttle quadrant assembly. The aircraft involved in the incident ultimately landed safely, but not after exposing an unsafe condition attainable in flying the aircraft. Thursday's AD replaces a prior emergency AD issued by the FAA on June 12 and reflects Eclipse's development of an FAA-approved test/modification procedure. The new AD mandates the actions of Eclipse's service bulletin. Eclipse says it will prevent the unresponsive throttle condition via a "simple software update to all Eclipse 500" aircraft. The company is currently working with its suppliers to establish an implementation schedule for the software update for which it expects to achieve FAA certification early in the Q4 of this year.

The throttle issue is one of several recent challenges faced by the company, which include an investigation by the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General to review a complaint that the FAA certified the Eclipse E500 jet "despite safety concerns raised by the engineers and test pilots," as reported by USA Today; the replacement of company founder Vern Raburn with acting CEO Roel Pieper; and refund concerns from an unknown number of position holders who balked at the latest ($500,000) price increase of the Eclipse 500.

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News Briefs back to top 

GAMA: Industry Billings Rise As GA Falls

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association Thursday reported second-quarter shipment and billing figures that continue at a record-setting pace, without any help from the piston market. The industry as a whole showed a 24.1 percent increase for the first half of 2008 and totaled $12.1 billion, but was driven by an increase in worldwide bizjet and turboprop popularity. Total shipments on the lighter end of the scale (piston-powered aircraft) are down for 2008. GAMA, however, appears bullish on that segment of the industry: "The energy surrounding the entire spectrum of general aviation remains robust," according to the association's assessment. For the piston market, too, growth opportunities in the international market along with "innovative technologies" are at least generating "excitement," according to GAMA. So far, that excitement has not this year increased, or even maintained, the number of small plane shipments through the first two quarters of 2008. Actually, compared with last year's figures for the first two quarters, turboprop shipments are up nearly 20 percent and business jet shipments are up nearly 40 percent, while piston shipments are down nearly 16 percent to 1034 units ... excitement not withstanding.

For the industry as a whole, total billings for 2008 have so far reached $12.1 billion on 1919 shipments. That's 663 jets, 222 turboprops and 1034 piston aircraft. The results of a respectable showing at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh may have an impact on next quarter's numbers. We'll see...

Fly History To Offer Warbird Club(like) Flying

A new program just launched by Fly History LLC is designed to give pilots the ability to train, qualify and then have solo flying-club-like access to T-6 Texan, T-34 Mentor and PT-17 aircraft. The company is currently filling slots for 20 charter members at each of six locations, nationwide. The fees paid by members will vary by location -- Fly History is currently setting up shop in Boston, Westchester (N.Y.), Dallas, Los Angeles, Orlando, and Atlanta. As an example, Boston will require dues of $1380 per month plus $165 per hour dry for all aircraft but the T6, which goes for $275 per hour, dry. Charter members will lay out the full year's dues in advance to be held in escrow until 20 positions are filled at their location and the aircraft are on the flight line. Training requirements have been worked out with an insurer and there are minimum total time requirements for applicants, beginning at 500 hours for T-34 pilot aspirants and topping off at 1000 hours for AT-6 aspirants. Those who want to fly the PT-17 need a tailwheel endorsement plus 300 PT-17 landings (although lower limits may apply for experienced tailwheel drivers). ... And the Stearman aircraft will be rotated to Fly History's warmer locations as winter closes in.

Like an exclusive flying club, membership and hourly rates are to be fixed and cover maintenance, insurance and operational costs. After the first year, members take on month-to-month flexibility and may withdraw from the program "without financial penalties and hassles of selling an aircraft," according to the company. Qualified members will be able to use the aircraft for both training and pleasure trips and a 5:1 member to aircraft ratio (one PT-17, two Mentors, and One T-6 at each location) should keep scheduling conflicts to a minimum. Fly History claims it program is capable of saving you "up to $35,000 per year" ... when compared with sole ownership of a T-6.

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News Briefs back to top 

Court Rules Controller At Fault For Fatal Midair

Blaming an air traffic controller for the collision a U.S. District Judge early this month ordered the FAA to pay $4.5 million to the family of a flight instructor killed in a midair involving a Robinson R44 and a Robinson R22 Beta II at Torrance Municipal Airport. The accident took place in 2003 and the judge's decision, handed down early this month, stated that the controller offered the R22's student pilot confusing instructions that caused him to crash the helicopter he was flying into the R44 flown by the instructor. The NTSB found in 2007 probable cause of the accident was "the failure of the pilot of the R22 [the student pilot] to comply with an ATC clearance." Both pilots were killed in the crash and a third person was seriously injured.

Multiple directions had been issued by the controller to the student pilot flying the R22 from a helipad north of Runway 29R to his parking area south of runway 29L. The last one cited by the NTSB in its probable cause report directed the student pilot to make a turn and gave him clearance to land on Runway 29R. The R22 descended into the R44 as the R44 was departing Runway 29L on a touch and go.

MotoPOD: The Practical STC'd Flying Car Substitute?

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Instead of a roadable aircraft, how about using your aircraft to carry a roadable motorcycle? That question has been answered by the effort of MotoPOD, which debuted its modified 225-cc six-speed four-cycle motorcycle and aircraft belly pod at AirVenture Oshkosh last month. The company says it will soon offer STC'd models for Cirrus SR22, Cessna 182 and other aircraft models. For now, the system has been fitted to a four-seat Van's Aircraft RV-10 kitbuilt experimental aircraft for testing at a cost of 9 knots airspeed during cruise -- time the company says you can sometimes more than erase on the destination end of the trip by virtue of having brought your own ground transportation. As for other costs, first, a MotoPOD carrying one of the company's modified motorcycles (leak-proof plumbing and folding parts) will add more than 230 pounds to your aircraft. But before that, comes dollars.

A pod plus motorcycle will run you somewhere near $9000, give or take roughly $1000, less installation. The pod locks in place below the belly of the aircraft with a pin system, and a winch (which you can run externally with a handheld electric drill) lowers the pod to the ground where it can be wheeled out from under the aircraft on integral mostly recessed wheels. That installation means that the entire volume of the pod is accessible from its top opening. From there, the company claims it only takes minutes to make the bike road-ready and drive off.

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New on AVweb back to top 

The Pilot's Lounge #129: Landings -- Watching The Really Good Pilots

AVweb's Rick Durden found some really good pilots at Oshkosh this year ... just by watching them land.

Click here to read Rick Durden's column.

It happened the second day I was at Oshkosh. I'd vacated the Pilot's Lounge at the virtual airport to visit Oshkosh along with a few hundred thousand of my closest friends for our annual immersion in all that is aviation. I gaped at the latest in electronics for the instrument panel, marveled at some of the airshow performances, saw a bunch of friends I only get to see once a year, wondered about a new decibel record for flatulence every time the rocket-racer's engine was shut down during the demonstration flight, and found that even audiences as historically willing to wildly applaud anything in aviation as those at AirVenture will draw the line when it appears the emperor really has no clothes.

Setting the Mood

Every few years at Oshkosh, someone shows up with a flying machine and -- employing the best medicine-show hucksterism -- promises it will "revolutionize" this or that in the flying world. Too often, a lot of hopefuls then write hefty checks only to find, after a few frustrating years, their money gone and no flying machine of any sort, revolutionary or not, in their hangar. I came to the opinion that this year's over-hyped device was the arrogantly misnamed Martin Jetpack. (It has no connection to the jetpacks that have been flying for 40 years and, disappointingly, is piston-engine powered). Once the months of talking had to stop and actual flying begin, it only managed to ascend about two feet. The handlers on each side of behemoth were apparently so confident of its performance and controllability that they would not let go of it. EAA audiences are pretty forgiving, but this time the ratio of pre-flight blather to actual performance was so bad that post-flight boos were clearly audible. It did this old cynic's heart good to hear the public remind the publicists that the ethical practice is to flight test and then publicize, rather than the converse. Even in aviation, hubris does have its limits.

After listening to the idiocy of a lot of incompetent pilots on the frequency for the Ripon-Fisk VFR arrival while getting to Oshkosh and the hilarity of the not-really-a-jetpack, I was in a frame of mind where I needed to see the good and the true in aviation. Not sure where to go for that purpose, I sat down where I could watch arrivals landing on Runway 9. I'd only been there a few minutes when I saw a B-25 turn to line up on final. The pilot rolled out with the wind correction nailed and, as the airplane approached, I could hear a slow, steady, power reduction. The engines were back to idle before the pilot began raising the nose to break the descent. I realized I was watching an artist at work. The right wing was down just enough to correct for drift from the right crosswind, the descent rate progressively slowed as the nose rose, and the speed bled off until the right main tire was only a fraction of an inch above the runway. Pitch attitude was near the stall as the right tire gently made contact with the runway, sliding briefly and then spinning up. Touchdown was as slow as possible. It was obvious the pilot not only knew there was a lot of mass in motion to manage on the ground -- so the slower the touchdown the better -- but had internalized the cost of brakes and tires on the aging warbird and wanted them to last as long as physically possible.

I could see the aileron deflection increase as the pilot kept the Mitchell's left main in the air for a few more seconds before it, too, began to roll, leaving a small puff of smoke to briefly mark the spot. Then I saw the nose come up just a little more as the pilot took advantage of aerodynamic drag and a long runway to further save the brakes until gently flying the nosewheel onto the runway before the elevator completely lost effectiveness.

I replayed the landing in my head. The pilot had approached so as to begin the flare at the threshold of the runway, wasting little of it while not risking touching down short. The pilot did not use power as a crutch to correct any potential mishandling of the flare, as that would use up more runway, probably lead to more speed at touchdown, less control on the ground and more wear on tires and brakes.

I wanted to bottle that landing and take it home to pull out and study from time to time. I someday want to make one that good.

As I watched airplanes continue to arrive, I could not help but compare each landing to that of the anonymous B-25 pilot. Happily, after what I had heard two days earlier over the Ripon-Fisk arrival frequency, the majority of landings were quite good and several were excellent. In the time I watched, only one pilot had me thinking that I was going to see bent metal, as a 195 came perilously close to a ground loop, and a few should have felt distinctly embarrassed. I saw a Comanche come down final at what I suspect was nearly the maximum speed allowable for the gear to be extended and then float for at least 2000 feet before whomping onto the runway.

I've had the good fortune of learning from my betters over the years, so when I saw pilots who knew what they were about making landings that ranked as excellent, I figured I'd pay attention and see what they had in common and what I could learn.

Set Up on Final

While the saying that "a good landing is the result of a good approach" isn't 100-percent true, having the airplane collected for some period of time on final increases the odds of a good landing. It makes sense: The pilot's workload is diminished when things are in order, so there isn't any scrambling trying to pull off a last-second-miracle touchdown. That being said, the length of time needed to get set up on final varies among individual pilots and type of airplane involved. When I'm flying certain tailwheel airplanes that are fairly blind forward, it may be best to turn all the way into the flare or have only a very short period of flying straight on final. When I'm flying with a relatively new student pilot, I want at least a half mile on final so the student can have time to observe what is going on, get the speed where it should be, start to learn the sight picture involved and see what happens when various control inputs are made.

The length of the final approach necessary for the pilot to be assured that all is well depends on the pilot's overall experience level with the type of airplane being flown, recency of experience in it and comfort level with the particular runway elevation, length, width, slope and the weather extant. It's a judgment call for each individual pilot; however, as a guideline, I've learned that if I feel rushed or uncomfortable or that I can't seem to get all the monkeys firmly secured under the inverted bushel basket before coming into the flare, I need a little more time on final. I also keep in mind that time on final is a function of both wind and distance flown; it's really just that: time. On a windy day, the physical distance flown should be shorter in order to maintain the same length of time on final, so base leg is turned earlier and an appropriate crab is maintained on base to prevent drifting away from the airport.

So far I have referred to the pilot having the airplane "collected." I specifically haven't used the word "stabilized," as it only applies to jet airplanes. That term was coined when it was discovered that jet engines take some time to spool up and a low-power approach, as made normally with a piston-engine airplane, was not a good idea. With their higher stall speeds, jets were flown at about 1.3 Vso, with the landing gear and flaps extended for a couple of miles on final in a stabilized approach, in which fairly high power was required so that the engine(s) were already pretty well spooled up, which made it easier to conduct a go-around if needed.

For piston-engine airplanes, it's just plain foolish to fly a three-mile final at 1.3 Vso; the pilot will be a year older before getting to the runway, a lot of liquid ex-dinosaurs will be used up needlessly and the engine will be subjected to rapid cooling due to a big power reduction just before touchdown.

A far better term is one borrowed from auto racing, where drivers refer to having the car "collected" as they go into a turn. An open-wheel racer may be going anywhere from 200 to 240 mph as it enters a turn at Indy. Depending on conditions, the driver may or may not be using the brakes to set up for the turn, may or may not have to make a gear change and may or may not have a choice of "lines" through the turn. When the driver has made decisions as to all of those variables, and the car is positioned so the driver can act on the decision, the driver says the car is collected. It's a perfect term for that last bit of the final approach before the throttle is closed and the flare begins.

Ordinarily, the speed should be at 1.3 Vso and landing flaps selected for at least the last quarter of a mile to the runway. Anything more than 1.3 Vso (plus no more than half the gust factor) coming into the flare is a recipe for problems. Extra speed is a killer on landing. It means floating, difficulty in responding to a crosswind as the extra speed is bled off prior to touchdown, and a serious risk of loss-of-control on rollout if there is any extra speed on touchdown. Having about a half a minute on speed is enough time for pilots who are current to assess the crosswind, respond to it, and make sure that the desired touchdown point is going to be hit. It gives time to make the decision to continue on to touchdown, or to realize that conditions aren't good and make a go around before getting any closer to the planet.

It's worth recognizing that being collected may still mean a final approach that is flown at a constantly decreasing speed to target a desired speed at flare height. It is often the case that a busy terminal area means a pilot has to fly fast until relatively close to the runway and then configure the airplane for landing. The pilot can make a conscious decision to position the airplane on the final-approach path so as to generate the familiar sight picture, while still cooking right along, and then descend down that familiar path while simultaneously decelerating so as to reach 1.3 Vso at or just prior to flare altitude. The pilot has the airplane collected throughout; however, it is certainly not a technique taught to students, as the number of variables that must be handled are far higher than flying the last quarter-mile on final at constant speed. Further, if not done correctly, it creates all of the problems and dangers associated with coming into the flare too fast. Nevertheless, while it is an advanced technique, it is an appropriate way for pilots with the requisite skill level to have their airplane collected, and one sees it frequently in the bush with STOL airplane operators, at busy airports, as pilots mix with the flow. And it is carried out by the very good pilots at Oshkosh who are considerate of those behind them and don't slow to landing speed until the last moment.

Power Off In the Flare

Watching the good pilots land generated another consistent observation: Be it a piston-single or -twin, power was reduced to idle before the flare was initiated. The experts had no tendency to use power in the flare as a crutch to allow a nose-low, runway-eating, tire-erasing, brake-frying, high-speed touchdown. They know that slow is better when the Firestones reunite with the pavement, and they know how and when to start to raise the nose to offset any sink caused by finally closing the throttle(s) due to the loss of propwash over the wing and onset of braking effect of the windmilling propeller. They use that propeller brake and know how effective it is as they raise the nose well skyward, so there is no danger whatsoever that the nosewheel might touch along with the mains, and they assure that their touchdown is within a knot or three of stall speed.

Keep It Straight

The final act of each of the good landings I was favored to savor was an anti-climax to the observer: Nothing happened. The airplane decelerated, straight ahead, to taxi speed. While there may have been a lot of action in the cockpit as the pilot kept the airplane straight, all that the rest of the world saw was the ailerons smoothly deflect all the way into the prevailing right crosswind shortly after the right main started rolling.

By and large, the first part of the landing rollout is where landing accidents happen. The airplane is still rolling too fast to have much weight on the tires, and thus nosewheel steering has little effect, yet it is flying slowly enough that it takes nearly full aerodynamic control deflection for them to have a causal relationship with regard to aircraft direction. That's why the good pilots don't slam the nose down right after the mains start rolling in the vague hope of obtaining nosewheel steering. They keep the nose in the air for aerodynamic braking early in the landing roll while controlling direction with the flight controls, recognizing that it may take large inputs, and they put the ailerons to the stop to help with directional control in a crosswind.

Once the ailerons are to the stop and the mains are rolling, the pilot is only concerned with managing and dissipating the energy of the airplane. That's all. It entails keeping the airplane going where the pilot wants it to go and slowing down. As a general rule of thumb, aerodynamic braking is more effective than the wheel brakes on a nosewheel airplane for about the first third or so of the landing roll. After that, there is enough weight on the wheels for the wheel brakes to do their job. As a result, the only thing the pilot need concentrate on immediately after touchdown is directional control. That is the sole task at hand. And it can be a very big one, especially in a gusty crosswind. It is no time for the pilot's attention to be diverted to changing radio frequencies, opening cowl flaps or responding to a call from the tower. Anything other than making sure the airplane goes in the direction desired by the pilot is so far down the list of what is important in the pilot's life as to be ignored.

The FAA has seen the accident data and has gotten pretty adamant about pilots not messing around during landing rollout. If you take a checkride and do anything other than bring the airplane to taxi speed and turn off of the runway, you risk the joy of having to take a checkride again.

I will state that if a pilot recognizes the risk, there are times -- particularly in a strong or gusty crosswind or on a short runway -- when it is appropriate to raise the flaps when about one third of the way into the landing roll to hasten the onset of rolling control and brake effectiveness by putting the weight on the wheels earlier. The risk is, of course, loss of control because the pilot is distracted by the process of finding and moving the flap control. If the airplane has retractable gear, the risk increases, as pilots have been known to move the landing-gear switch rather than the flap switch. While that risk almost never results in anyone being hurt, contrasted with an accident from loss of control on rollout, the effect is, nevertheless, most embarrassing, I'm told.

I watched a few more good examples of landings: the well-collected line up; precise glide-path control; power smoothly to idle prior to the flare; and the artistically conducted roundout to a nose-high touchdown with subsequent, full aileron deflection and precisely directed rollout. It was a most satisfying confirmation that there are some very fine pilots in this world, and a fair proportion of them come to Oshkosh.

See you next month.

Want to read more from Rick Durden? Check out the rest of his columns.

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Why Pilots Lose Their Edge

It doesn't take many weeks of sitting on the ground for an instrument pilot to get rusty. Foremost, staying current is one big balancing act.

Click here for the full story.

Aviation magazines that talk to instrument pilots seem to focus on the importance of currency as the critical element of a safe flight in the clouds. Here's a look at some of the building blocks to currency and what happens when they're ignored.

Loss of Scanning Proficiency

Scan proficiency becomes rusty the fastest of all the skills an instrument pilot must possess. Losing the scan translates into an increased workload for any pilot's brain, which leads to less time to deal with the additional, pressing parts of flying in the clouds.

Being able to handle more than one thing at a time is often the next skill to go after too much inactivity. For example, learning to tune radios, checking a chart for the correct frequency and setting the prop/mixture while keeping up the scan are all part of the balancing act.

Yanking and Banking

Forgetting how little control input is required tends to be a factor that many instrument pilots fail to keep on top of as the rust starts to form. It only takes a light touch on the controls to keep the primary altitude and heading instruments glued. I twiddle the fingers on my left hand every once in awhile to force myself to relax. A death grip on the yoke is sure to cause over-controlling.

Like a chess game, the pilot should be thinking three moves ahead of what is going to happen next to stay sharp. If a pilot is only staying up to speed with the next expected task, they are already two steps behind the airplane.

Position Awareness

Maintaining a mental picture of where you are at all times is important. Before GPS, that grey matter in our brain gave most of us a fairly accurate picture of the aircraft's position. Technology presents a prettier picture, but be ready if it fails. This is one of the vital skill-sets that must be continually nurtured by either frequent flights or by use of a simulator.

Instrument pilots must develop good habits. With that knowledge, a pilot can more easily recall the steps it takes to stay IFR current. I can tell in the first hour of training an instrument pilot if organization is going to be a problem.

Radio Nots

Knowing what to say on the radio and when, in the least amount of words, is a primary skill usually perfected during initial instrument training. It's also a skill that's often underestimated until a pilot is dormant for awhile, so think before pushing the mike button.

Understanding Technology

Today's glass-cockpit technology requires skills not necessary five years ago. Due to the complexity of learning the knobs and buttons on newer avionics, as well as the input commands to the software, a pilot must be constantly training on them. It pays to spend a little time with any of the desktop flight simulators between flights to stay sharp.

Pilots who understand their own weather limitations should always raise their personal minimums when not having flown in real IMC for some time. The "warm and fuzzy" test is one of a pilot's best defenses against making a wrong judgment call after getting a marginal weather forecast. If it doesn't feel right, it isn't.

Your life is worth much more than the need to become a test pilot.

Holding Pattern Know How

The FAA had a reason for making instrument pilots demonstrate at least one holding pattern every six months for currency. Some pilots have not flown an actual hold since their checkride. That's the reason there are probably more instructional articles written on holding patterns than any other subject. Have one of your flying buddies sit in the right seat as safety pilot while you run a few circuits on your next flight.

Reality Check

A good technique for every instrument driver, either while the training or after winning their rating, is to make an honest self-assessment after every flight.

After shutdown, grab the pad of paper and, with the information still fresh in your mind, start making notes about what worked well and what did not. Begin with the IFR planning process, for example: How close did your received route match what you filed? If the answer is, not close at all, perhaps your planning needs a little work.

Then try the same technique with weather and air traffic procedures, yours versus how well it might have gone. It's the only way to improve.

More articles to help you become a better pilot are available in AVweb's Airmanship section. And for monthly articles about IFR flying, subscribe to AVweb's sister publication, IFR Refresher.

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Dr. Blue Says, "Be Smart — Carry a PLB!"
Flying, hiking, camping, riding your ATV or bike — accidents happen that can become a life-threatening situation. Be prepared with a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). It's as easy as pushing a button. PLBs from Aeromedix.com include the ACR MicroFix 406 MHz for pilots when you're enjoying activities in unpopulated areas. Click now to visit Aeromedix.com for complete details.
AVweb Audio — Are You Listening? back to top 

Zenith's Sebastian Heintz Talks with Kitplanes About the FAA's New Homebuilt Rules

File Size 6.6 MB / Running Time 7:13

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

At EAA AirVenture 2008, Kitplanes Editor-in-Chief Marc Cook sought out some of the most influential people in the homebuilt sector and asked their opinion on the FAA's revisions to the 51% Rule. In the latest installment of this series, we listen in on Marc's conversation with Zenith Aircraft's Sebastian Heintz.

This podcast is brought to you by Bose Corporation's Aviation Headset X™ ...

Click here to listen. (6.6 MB, 7:13)

"A Celebration"
Celebrating their 45th anniversary this September, the National Championship Air Races are the last head-to-head air racing event left on Earth and are the favorite among aviation enthusiasts, worldwide. The event features six high-speed racing classes and a static aircraft show, and this year the USAF Thunderbirds and F-22 Demonstration Team will highlight a fleet of world-class aviation demonstrations. For more information on the National Championship Air Races or to purchase tickets, call (775) 972-6633, or visit AirRace.org.
AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

AVweb's AirVenture 2008 Video Round-Up

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

This year at EAA AirVenture we brought you fourteen video reports over the course of seven days. We realize the news was flying fast and furious during the show, so just in case you missed any of our reports, you can catch them all here. (The main frame contains all of our videos, or you can click over to a particular video if one interests you more than the others.)

Editors' Preview


Rocket Racers

Contest Winner


Bobby Sturgell

ChallengeAir Auction

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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Sean Tucker


Martin Jet Pack



ATC Tower


Video of the Week: Missionary Landing at Tiweano (Ecuador)

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

This week's featured video comes from AVweb reader Robert Patterson, who spent some time last month on a missionary trip to Ecuador with MAF Vision. The clip Robert shares with us their final approach to the village of Tiweano:

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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. If you're impressed by it, there's a good chance other AVweb readers will be too. And if we use a video you recommend on AVweb, we'll send out an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you."

New! Jeppesen Avionics Knowledge Library — Garmin G1000 IFR Training
The Jeppesen Garmin G1000 — IFR Procedures training is an advanced, extensive computer-based training program developed with Garmin teaching skills to master the operation of and confidently fly the G1000 in IFR conditions. Learn: How to pull up and fly instrument procedures; how to load and activate approaches including RNAV and GPS; all the new WAAS-enabled approaches; and how to perform course reversals, fly holding patterns, and execute missed approaches. Call Jeppesen at (303) 328-4274, or visit online for more information!
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Poplar Grove Airmotive (C77, Poplar Grove, IL)

Nominate an FBO | Rules | Tips | Questions | Winning FBOs

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Poplar Grove Airmotive, located (where else?) at Poplar Grove Airport (C77), an hour north of Chicago.

In a week filled with great recommendations, it was this testimonial from AVweb reader Steve Langdon that brought Poplar Grove to the top:

Poplar Grove is the Mecca for fun aviation. The field hosts numerous biplanes, homebuilts, etc. The owners, Steve and Tina Thomas, will bend over backwards to make your visit enjoyable and memorable. The field has two sod strips ... great for obtaining your tail wheel endorsement in either the Piper Cub or the Cessna 140 that are available for rent at the FBO. Good food is just up the road, and a car is usually availabe. Adjacent to the airport is the Poplar Grove Vintage Wings and Wheels Museum, which celebrates the early years of aviation and other forms of transportation.

Sounds like a destination FBO, Steve — thanks for the tip!

Keep those nominations coming. For complete contest rules, click here.

AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!

Fly (or Drive) Somewhere! Use AVweb's Calendar of Events
Air shows, seminars, conferences, club events, fly-ins, pancake breakfasts, and trade shows are all featured on AVweb's Calendar of Events.

If you have an event you want folks to know about, post it at no cost!
The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

An exchange overheard while flying over the Mojave Desert:

Joshua Approach:
"Bonanza 50Y, traffic two o'clock, five miles. Unmanned aerial vehicle has you in sight."

50Y (me):
"50Y looking. If he's 'unmanned,' how can he have me in sight?"

Joshua Approach:
"Oh. He's got a T-38 spotter plane, so really it's a flight of two ... . Now you're three o'clock, three miles."

Yeah, I was kidding. I know they have cameras and instrumentation. But I still don't have them in sight."

Joshua Approach:
"They're passing behind you now. No factor. And we usually reserve the 'I can't see him' jokes for the F-117s that come through here."

Marc Zorn
via e-mail

So You Think You Are a Safe Pilot!
Aviation Safety magazine will keep your decision-making skills sharp with interesting and information-packed articles. You may find lots you didn't know! Order your subscription online for savings from the regular rate.
More AVweb for Your Inbox back to top 

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb's NO-COST weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry. Business AVflash is a must read. Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/.

Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

AVwebFlash is a weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.

The AVwebFlash team is:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Scott Simmons

Mariano Rosales
Jeff van West

Click here to send a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)

Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's sales team.

If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your PDA or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.